There is a man, local to our area, who is known to a number of people because he likes to hang around in the park and drink. Let’s call him Dick.

He has his dog with him, and it is not her fault. She is not a bad dog and she loves him because she thinks it is normal to have the person who looks after you yell abuse at you to tell you off when you are doing something he does not like and to ignore you when you are trying to get a little bit of affection.

Her coat is clean and she is a good weight, so I am sure that he does love her, it is just that when he is drinking, and when he is drinking in public, he likes to be a tough guy and the dog is the nearest thing he can yell at because nobody else wants to go near him.

He strides around the streets, barefooted, with his dog off the lead  – which could earn him a $200 fine – but he seems to think the imaginary points he is scoring off the law by doing this is worth it.

I first saw him at the park after Barry appeared. Barry arrived at the park one summer. He was a short man, with a round body and the face and brain of a pug dog. He would be sitting on the bench when I arrived, whether it was morning or evening, and it was not until after a couple of weeks that I arrived a little earlier than usual and caught him under a blanket by the clubhouse that I realised he had kind of moved in to the park.

As homeless alcoholics go, Barry was not too bad. Apart from the occasional rage he would fly into when he had been on a serious bender, he was polite and spent the first hour of his day cleaning up litter left by other people who had passed through and muttering about falling standards. His family had tried a number of times to get him into accommodation, but he could not settle there. I think he had a modest allowance – which allowed him to drink without stealing, but this allowance meant that he attracted other people, who cared far less about who they hurt.

Barry was OK, and over the course of the year he lived at the park, he almost acquired an honorary pet status with the locals. None of his ‘friends’ was quite so pleasant.

Dick was one such friend. He would sit on the bench, loudly sharing his opinion with nobody – as nobody was interested in hearing it, while swigging from his bottled beer. He would rip a branch off a tree and hurl it across the park for his dog to fetch, and she would set off to retrieve it. He was like a vortex of negative energy and he wore the unpleasantness that he had built up around himself like a shield.

Then one day, he decided he did not like my husband.

For the past three weeks we have been trying to ignore Dick, as he has followed my husband up the street, yelled abuse at him, threatened to assault him and tonight added to his list of charms spitting in my husband’s face. Twice.

I had called the police on the non-urgent number and stood near the scene as he ranted on, in the vain hope that he would not do anything in front of a witness.

His dog, which he insisted to me was a dingo (it isn’t), tried to get in between him and my husband to take him away. She was probably the most distressed of all of us, and if one good thing came out of this, I could see up close that she is really a gentle soul – as I have always been worried in the past that she might attack my dogs.

I called the police at ten to nine. At twenty to ten he had finally bored of repeating expletives in my husband’s face and staggered off, his dog trotting faithfully behind him. Bang on cue, five minutes later, the police called.

This man, who I don’t know, is now in my life and I don’t know why. We never invited his attention and we do not want it, but he seems, in the way that drunken brains do, to have fixed on an idea and for the moment is reluctant to let it go. The police told me I could apply for a restraining order but this seems a bit extreme. I did try to get some pictures of him yelling at my husband, but when they saw the phone, they both turned to look at me and it looks like a bad photo I have taken of them at an awkward BBQ party in the 70s. I have got a shot of the dog off its lead, but it is not her fault and I don’t want her impounded because her owner is an idiot.

I was just starting a different blog entry when my husband called me to tell me he was being followed and to call the police and then did not have the heart to finish it. I don’t know what will finish this pattern of behavior between him and my husband, what will eventually break his determination to abuse and threaten, but I hope something does soon, because nobody likes a Dick.


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